Have you ever had itchy, watery eyes and a stuffy nose?
If you have experienced these symptoms, then there is a good chance that you have enjoyed the many side effects of seasonal allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, an estimated 40 million Americans suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies every day.
The symptoms of seasonal allergies occur when the immune system reacts to pollen or mold that you’ve inhaled, and fights it as if it were a bacteria or a virus.
Now imagine what seasonal allergies are like for people who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Seasonal allergies are just a nuisance for most people. For COPD patients, however, this is an extra condition to manage that makes breathing even more difficult.
So what type of impact does COPD and seasonal allergies have on a person?
The Effect of Seasonal Allergies
For many people with COPD, symptoms tend to worsen during allergy season. COPD patients with allergies have higher levels of respiratory symptoms and are at a greater risk for a flare-up.
Tree, grass and weed pollen, and mold spores can increase COPD symptoms because exposure to an allergen typically narrows the airways and increases mucus production—making it even more difficult to breathe.
In a recent study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, researchers found that individuals with COPD and seasonal allergies were more likely to exhibit symptoms of wheezing, chronic coughing and a build-up of phlegm.
These individuals also had higher chance of having to see a doctor for reasons related to their COPD condition. The study also found that treatment for seasonal allergies could improve respiratory symptoms.
Tips To Avoid Complications
If you suffer from COPD and seasonal allergies, the best you can do is avoid potential allergens that could aggravate your symptoms. Be aware of your triggers and take steps to avoid worsening your condition.
Here are a few tips to help with seasonal allergies:
- Check the pollen count. The National Allergy Bureau website provides reports on pollen and mold counts for your area. This can help you plan your day accordingly.
- Stay inside. Staying inside when seasonal allergies are at their highest is recommended.
- Get help and treat your symptoms. Talk to your physician or an allergist on what treatment action is best for you. There is medication available to help relieve the stress of seasonal allergies.
- Allergy proofing your environment can go a long way. Install a good filtration system in your air conditioner, and keep windows closed when pollen counts are high. Cleaning your house regularly can also help improve breathing conditions.
COPD and seasonal allergies can be a bad combination, but there is help available to relieve the symptoms during allergy season.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.